Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mucho Yogurt Bento

From left to right: Vegetarian vegetable soup in a microwaveable container, parmesan cheese for the soup in the orange kitty, circular grilled cheese sandwiches with flowers cut from cheese slices on top, apple bunny, a pretzel, baby tomato with an elephant pick, container of yogurt with two tiny apple flowers on top.
The lesson that I learned with this bento was to put a layer of saran wrap over the really, really full yogurt container BEFORE I put it into the bento. Because once it's there it's extremely difficult to get back out without spilling it everywhere!

Sweet Potato Bao Bentos

A three tiered bento box makes for a great way to carry a three person lunch! The top one was my daughter's, the middle mine and the bottom was for my husband. They all contained pretty much the same stuff:
A sweet potato bao (purchased frozen from Super H Mart and steamed in the microwave for 1 minute), steamed broccoli, sesame carrots, onigiri, steamed baby corn, blueberries, tangy corn snacks and little bits of tomato. The onigiri lions in my daughter's bento were very simple to make - just small round balls of rice that I nestled into some carrot peelings and then applied the nori faces onto.
If you've never tried a japanese sweet potato, you don't know what you're missing! They honestly are as sweet as cake. I've only found the actual potatoes at the Farmer's Market in Decatur so far, but these bao are soooo delicious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cucumber Heart Faces Bento

You can't really tell from the photo, but the faces are on heart shaped onigiri inside heart shaped cut out cucumber slices. The center hearts of the cucumbers are on the other side of the bento. It worked out well that the mini heart onigiri mold and my mini heart cookie cutter are pretty much the same size and shape!
There are also some baby tomato flowers with green pea centers, soba noodles with garlic sauce, carrot hearts and blueberries.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peep Bento

This was a bento for my daughter who loves Peep (from Peep and the Big Wide World). Morningstar Farms Chik nuggets, cucumber slices, green peas and corn skewers, cherry tomato, red grapes, rice granola bar thingy, blue colored rice, cheese peep with tomato peel, cheese and nori details. Cucumber grass and chik nugget ground.

The blue rice turned out to be very strong. I couldn't remember how much food coloring to put in the rice and ended up overdoing it a bit, but it sure does stand out! I wish that I had used a sturdier material for Peep's body since the cheese slice kind of wrinkled with the rice and looks funky in the photo. It looked much better in person.

In any case it got quite the reaction from A-chan who just loved it. I'm glad that Peep is such an easy character to make cause he's going to be a popular bento item around here.

Post AWA sublimeness

Okay, so Anime Weekend Atlanta was really awesome. Didn't want to come home - we had so much fun! Thank you so much to everyone who came to the Bento panels!!!! I know that the Practicum was quite chaotic and I apologize, it was a lot more popular than we thought it would be and we definately weren't prepared for that many people. We will try to have it go more smoothly next year and get people some hands-on bento experience. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions, corrections or anything!

This site will be getting an update soon with some new links, including links to Tea Priestess's bento blog. She was the fantastic person who did the Bento Practicum with me and has a ton of bento knowledge and experience. She is also one of the nicest people I've ever met and didn't get upset at me when I was really, really, really late to meet up with her once.

Pics of my family and I at AWA on Sunday (at the bottom of the page, I'm the one with the basket on my head.):

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grilled Cheese Flower Bento

The main part of the bento - the grilled cheese flower sandwich had extra cheese decorations added once the sandwhich had cooled down. There are also some carrot butterflies, green grapes, fresh blueberries, cucumber grass and a skewer of blueberries with a balloon sticker-enhanced toothpick. For desert were a sweet midget pickle and tiny hamburger shaped cookies that were surprisingly good. On the side - tomato soup in a microwaveable bowl.

Bean Jam Wafer Bento

This was an extremely easy bento for a day when speed was required. Jasmine rice with green pea heart , cheddar jack cheese slices, baby tomatoes, sesame carrots, a skewer of chick peas (my little girl LOVES those things, who knew?) and an extra huge, lovely, wonderfully yummy bean jam wafer from Super H Mart.
The heart of peas was created by packing the rice around the outside of a heart shaped cookie cutter, then putting the peas into the center. Gently lift out the cookie cutter and voila - something that kind of sort of resembles a heart from certain angles, lol.
The wafer is really really good, I can't quite describe it though. The outside is a lot like an old fashioned ice cream cone which was a bit surprising at first.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Garden Fresh Bean Bentos

Top tier to bottom: Vegetable ramen with carrot hearts, green beans and a black olive. Blueberries from our bushes with canned mangosteen sections and candied mango-chili slivers. Jasmine rice with a mamenori cover, baked tofu fingers.
Left tier: Lots of steamed broccoli with tiny carrot flowers, a black olive, fresh blueberries and canned mangosteen, cheese crackers and sesame sticks.
Right tier: Baked tofu fingers, black olives, jasmine rice, green beans, carrot stars.

Jasmine rice, green beans, carrot acorns, baked tofu fingers, black olives, veggie ramen, steamed broccoli. The lid section contained lots of blueberries.
My toddler had just picked green beans from her grandpa's garden and was so excited about eating them that I had to spruce them up a bit. her excitement did not last beyond the first bite, however, as she realized that she still did not like green beans. But at least she tried them!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fairy Heart Bento

Fairy bread is this absolutely gorgeous phenomenon that caught my eye on Flickr a while back. Not only is it easy to make, it's lots of fun and my toddler can't get enough of it. Fortunately I introduced it to her as something reserved for special occasions. If you aren't familiar with Fairy bread - it consists of white bread, something spreadable such as butter or peanut butter with all kinds of colorful sugar sprinkles on top. Search for it on flickr to get a lot of beautiful pics!

Included with the Fairy bread: pretzels, cheddar cheese, green grapes, applesauce with carrot flowers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Non-challenge Bento

This was my husband's bento on the same day as the Challenge bento.
Top tier: Vegetable Bao (store bought), steamed broccoli, rambutans and orange slices, carrot star, baby tomato, cheese slices.
Bottom tier: Vegetable fried rice (no egg), steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes, home-made two-potato curry gyoza, cheese stars.
On the side: Coconut cream cookies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Challenge Bento

A while back a friend of mine slightly dissed my bentos, commenting on how small they were and how they could never hold enough food for him. This was utter blasphemy and it became a challenge! My response: this bento, the single bento I have ever made that included meat. Yes, it's true.

Top tier: A ton of veggie fried rice with egg, tightly packed. 3 beef shumai, store bought. 3 pork gyoza, also store bought. Steamed broccoli floret, carrot star and mozzarella shooting star.

Bottom tier: Vegetable bao, more beef shumai and pork gyoza, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes, rabbit shaped boiled egg with nori mustache and eyeglass. Carrot star, cheese slices, rambutans and orange slices.

On the side: a package of cookies and a container of hot sauce.

It was great fun to do a 'challenge' bento! All the meat was in wrapped form and required steaming to cook so that I could cook it without touching any of it. It had been so many years since I'd cooked a hard boiled egg that I actually had to look up directions for it, lol. It was kind of neat to use my egg shaper for the use to which it was intended, though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Black sesame seed bento

Left to right: Steamed peas, hello kitty soy sauce container, cherry tomato, sesame carrots with black sesame seeds, jasmine rice with black sesame seed circle.

A very simple bento that was easy to make and took very little time. The black sesame seeds are a favorite of mine both for taste and for looks. They do really taste a lot different from white sesame seeds - I can't explain how exactly, but they do!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fabulous Feta Bento

Top tier: Kitty onigiri with carrot whiskers and ears, mamenori face, Morningstar farms chik nuggets, upside down inari zushi, steamed broccoli, carrot hearts.

Bottom tier: Radiatore Pomodore pasta with three pepper feta cheese, carrot heart, steamed broccoli and Vegetarian fillo Hors d'oeuvres by the Fillo Factory that I bought at the Farmers Market. (Have I said lately how much I looooove that place?)

This bento was for my husband when he went to play a game with some friends. As always it is rare for us to be seperated and so I try to make something special for his bento. This time the star of the show was absolutely the peppercorn feta. He adores feta and this one I bought at the Farmer's market and kept hidden as a surprise. The flavor of the feta made it unnecessary to flavor the pasta at all which made the bento even easier to make!

I am told that the kitty onigiri's facial features stuck on to the bottom of the lid, leavin behind a cheshire cat effect. Next time I need to remember to make the onigiri a little smaller so that it fits inside the box without getting squnched by the lid.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't Know What to Call Them Bentos

Left to right: Small onigiri with mamenori decorations, strawberries, soy bologna wrapped around carrot and cucumber sticks and held in place with a toothpick. Deep fried store bought vegetable pot stickers, udon noodles with carrot and cucumber stars, steamed broccoli.

Left tier: Udon noodles with black sesame seeds and a cucumber crown-like thing, inari-zushi, soy bologna wrapped around carrot and cucumber sticks and held together with a toothpick.
Right tier: Strawberry, deep fried vegetable pot stickers, small onigiri, steamed broccoli.

Top tier: Inari zushi, soy bologna wrap with carrot and cucumber sticks, deep fried vegetable pot stickers and a strawberry..
Bottom tier: Massive amounts of udon noodles and a cucumber crown.
I've found that when it comes to store bought pot stickers and gyoza my husband is very difficult to please, whereas I love them all (well, the vegetarian ones anyway...). In the future I will probably be making a huge batch of homemade ones just for him and eating all the store bought ones myself!
Having the pot stickers deep fried in the bentos instead of steamed was definately different. I made sure to damp all the extra oil off before packing them in the bentos and I was surprised that they stayed pretty crunchy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Burgers with Mac'n'Cheese

Bottom tier: Morningstar Farms Veggie Burger, 3 mini cheese and potato pierogies, steamed broccoli, steamed corn on the cob, cherry tomato halves, tiny mozzarella flower.

Middle tier: The best Mac'n'cheese I've ever made, with a decorative broccoli floret and some mozzarella flowers.

Top tier: Orange wedges, Hello Kitty candies

Pretty much the exact same items are in the other two bentos, but the one for my little girl had a mozzarella umbrella with mamenori hearts for cuteness, and an added lollipop.
The mac'n'cheese was fantastic, with radiatore pasta, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar jack cheeses.
This was the first time I had ever tried to include corn on the cob in any of my bentos. I was particularly inspired by someone on the flickr bento box group (I will put up a link tomorrow) whose boxes with corn always looked soooo yummy. But raw corn on the cob is very difficult to cut all the way through I found out. I had to enlist the aid of my husband who had trouble as well. Yes, he could have cut through it but didn't want to injure the countertop, the knife or make half the corn go spinning off onto the floor. Eventually we discovered that the corn is a lot easier to cut AFTER it's been cooked. Silly us, lol.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oversized Rabbit Bento

A carb-filled toddler meal! I needed something in a hurry so everything but the broccoli and apple bunny were leftovers that could be heated and packed quickly.

Left to right: Soba noodles with teriyaki sauce, steamed broccoli, HUGE apple bunny, Jasmine rice, carrot hearts, Japanese Golden Curry with potatoes, carrots, onions and tofu.

Ahhh, those were the days when my little girl would still eat apple peel sometimes. That's a nearly impossible request these days. How quickly things change! I tend to prefer sweeter apples over tart ones, like Gala and Fuji. My toddler has never met an apple that she doesn't like. But she's started actually asking me to cut all the peel off. She doesn't mind having apple bunnies in her bentos as long as the peel is easy to detach.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

An apology

To everyone who commented on my posts in the last several months, thank you so much and I am very sorry for not responding, etc. I've been having a difficult time getting online the last few months and hadn't been able to get to Blogger to do anything! I did read all of your comments and I will try to respond to everyone but if you have specific questions, please feel free to email me at :)

It's going to sound pretty silly, but I haven't been able to type for months! Now I have a laptop and can get online more often and do stuff, it's going to rock :D

I have a ton of bento pictures saved from the past few months to post and I'll start on that tomorrow.

Anyway, I really want everyone to know that I haven't been ignoring the comments that you've made and that I apologize for being gone. Please forgive me!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Special Toddler Bento

We've been having trouble getting our daughter to eat lately. We're not sure why, she will eat just a few bites and then claim to be full and won't eat any more. So I've been trying to do more bento lunches for her to get her to eat more and it's definately working. And in this bento we have the return of the skewered veggies which are always scarfed down first, yay!

Left portion: Green peas on skewers, ritz crackers with mozzarella cheese and soy bologna hearts, Morningstar Farms chik nugget, lettuce, 3 french fries and ketchup in the blue bear container.

Right portion: Garlic and olive oil couscous with peas and a halved cherry tomato.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snowflakes and Soba Bentos

Triangle onigiri with mamenori faces, apple bunnies, snap peas, sesame carrots, miniature corn croquettes, soba noodles with mamenori snowflakes.

We all had pretty much the same thing in our bentos. My husband and I had our soba noodles in lime-bowls while my daughter had hers in a standard toddler-approved container.

I learned several things while making these. First - that I love mamenori and that it's fun to work with. The paper punch that I used to make the snowflakes worked perfectly with the mamenori. But the mamenori didn't want to stick to the onigiri at all and tended to curl up instead of stay in place. Second - I actually really like snap peas which I have avoided for years cause I thought I didn't like them. My rule of 'you have to try at least one bite of something new' for my 3 year old clashed with my rule of 'if she has to do it, mommy has to do it too' with unexpected results! Last - that I should have used something other than a light colored background for the bentos when the pictures were taken.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Japanese Curry Rice!

Anyone who is a fan of anime must be consumed with curiosity over the dish 'Curry Rice' which shows up in many anime. Okay, maybe not, but I sure was! For years I have (ocassionally) wondered what it was that made Jun Pei so rapturous over Curry. What is the incredible pull of Curry Rice that Rino and President Kanade love so much? Finally, after all this time I got a chance to find out and the courage to experiment.

You might get the impression from this post that I, too, am in love with Japanese Curry Rice and you would be correct! The really funny thing is that it reminds me more of an old-fashioned beef stew than it does a curry. Weird but true. All three of us agree that it's delicious, though, and I think we'll be eating a whole lot of it this year.Top portion: Japanese curry, baby tomato and steamed broccoli.
Bottom portion: rice with soy bologna heart, mozzarella Hello Kitty, nori eyes, mamenori nose and hair bow.

Top tier: Curry rice
Bottom tier: mochi, mamenori flowers and leaves. Soy hot dog flowers, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes.

Top tier: Curry rice with snap pea leaves, baby corn flowers and veggie hot dog flowers.
Bottom tier: Veggie hot dog flowers, steamed broccoli, baby corn, baby tomatoes, mochi and lemon cream puff biscuit. The puff biscuit was very interesting - the biscuit part was just like a cracker and not sweet at all, while the cream inside was very sweet!

This is the box that the delightful curry sauce mix comes in. This one came from Super H Mart. It is medium hot, but can also be found in mild and hot flavors.

There are two of these packs inside the box. They are easy to break apart either into halves or fourths.

1/2 pack of Extra firm tofu cut into squares (Or meat product of your choice)
3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into squarish shapes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thickly
1 onion, peeled and chopped into large segments
2 Tb butter
1/2 block of Curry mix
Lots of water

1. Brown tofu (or meat) and onions in butter.
2. Remove from pan and replace with potatoes and carrots. Add 2-3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Put tofu and onions back into pan with veggies and any remaining water.
4. Add the curry mix and stir until dissolved, adding water as necessary to maintain a mostly thick sauce.
5. Simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to add water if sauce gets too thick.
6. Serve with steamed rice in a 50-50 ratio with some of the rice underneath the curry but some on the side.

Note: The anime referenced above are: Jun Pei from "Those Who Hunt Elves". Rino Rando and President Kanade are from "Best Student Council".

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bento bags

These are bento bags that I made for really good friends of ours for the holidays so that they would have something to carry their brand new bentos in! They are of green cotton with Sho Totoro embroidered on one side. Shown here with the bento boxes inside to give them form.They were really easy to make, I followed the pattern of my husband's bento bag that came with his green kitty bento. I used backstitch to outline the embroidery and filled it in with chain stitch. It's all done one thread thick with DMC floss so that it doesn't stand up very much from the ground cloth.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year's Eve Bento

Going to a New Year's Eve sushi-themed party was the perfect excuse for another excursion to my Beloved Super H Mart! (Remember my first mention of Super H, ever so long ago? lol - now I'm so addicted to the place...) It was a fantastic party and I'm still bummed cause I forgot to take the Mamenori with me so that my husband and I could eat sushi too. I can't believe I did that. Oh well, we had a great time and A-chan had so much fun.

Mochi are still her absolute favorite dessert, I think she ate at least 4 of them that night. They do take a little getting used to but they are so yummy!

There are orange halves in the center and konpeito candies scattered around, plus the tier where I ran out of mochi got an extra splash of carrot flowers. I'd seen lots of tomatoes cut like the oranges are, but saw oranges done this way by PurpleDinosaur in the bento box group on flickr. I thought it was so pretty and had to give it a try. Here is a link to the pic, go take a look!